A Unique Take on GTD With Gneo

Gneo is an interesting task management app that tries to do things very differently. On first glance, the app appears to be a cross between Trello and any other GTD app, but what sets it apart is its advanced feature set and rather unique take on overseeing your entire task list.

The app isn’t without fault and, in some instances, the app can be frustrating but it sets itself apart with a fresh perspective on task and project management that stops this from being just another todo app.

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Overview

Gneo is, quite simply, a task management app. It has all the hallmarks of any other related app, such as tasks and lists (which Gneo refers to as Notebooks). Gneo keeps everything in sync by way of an account you’ll need to register, even if you only intend to use the app on a single device.

At first, Gneo looks like there's a lot of space wasted for something as large as the iPad, but the use of white space is very clever.

At first, Gneo looks like there’s a lot of space wasted for something as large as the iPad, but the use of white space is very clever.

The app’s appearance is rather simplistic and, at first, you’d be forgiven in thinking that the app seems to waste a fairly large amount of screen real estate with large sections of white space and seemingly minimalist approach to utilising the iPad’s larger screen. In fact, Gneo makes good use of this and displays additional task information on either side, depending on whether each task has had tags or additional information assigned.

At the heart of Gneo is a gesture-driven interface that draws inspiration from apps such as Mailbox. Swiping various distances left and right will trigger different actions, though completing a task is still the tried and trusted way of tapping a checkbox.

Gestures may be great, but the app spends far too long with its tutorial about how to use them, at the expense of a usable interface.

Gestures may be great, but the app spends far too long with its tutorial about how to use them, at the expense of a usable interface.

The gestures work well, on the whole, though I found myself constantly tapping on a task repeatedly, only to then remember that I have to swipe left to edit. Tapping on a task actually does nothing, but it would certainly benefit from some action being triggered.

Taking to Task

Tasks are placed into Notebooks when created, likely to keep terminology similar to Evernote due to the integration it offers.

Tasks are placed into Notebooks when created, likely to keep terminology similar to Evernote due to the integration it offers.

Adding tasks is as simple as tapping the new task button, always located at the lower left corner. Gneo has a few tricks up its sleeves when it comes to new tasks and you can assign reminders, which sync to your calendars in iOS, locations and even attach files and voice recordings. As someone who uses voice recordings as a way to better explain a new task, I’ve found this to be a great function since it can save me using another app to record in, keeping everything together.

Attachments sync between devices and recordings are saved in a low bit rate to ensure that file sizes are kept as minimal as possible.

Being able to add voice recordings is a great feature.

Being able to add voice recordings is a great feature.

Urgent or Important?

I found the use of both these tags rather confusing as, to me, they mean the same thing. In Gneo, these are independent and tasks can be assigned either or both. For me, at least, all urgent tasks are important and vice versa, so I’m not sure what the difference should be.

This layout of tasks is definitely unique, but I'm not convinced it's efficient.

This layout of tasks is definitely unique, but I’m not convinced it’s efficient.

This leads on to the Trello-like overview of your tasks. Tasks are displayed vertically and separated by whether they are marked as important, urgent, neither or both. I’m not sure how this makes for a better organisational method as it just makes tasks feel rather cluttered, especially if you have a lot you need to do, and the view can become quite restrictive very quickly.

While it certainly provides a way of breaking down which tasks you would more likely need to accomplish first, this grid view doesn’t feel like an efficient way to do it and I often found myself ignoring it altogether.

Notebooks

Gneo prefers to call task lists Notebooks, all of which are accessible via the dedicated button on the opposite side of the display. As you’d expect, you can create new notebooks to store different tasks, depending on the requirements. Interestingly, Gneo supports Smart Notebooks, letting you create live searches for a number of different areas. Want a notebook to show all tasks tagged as work or include all tasks in multiple notebooks? Gneo has you covered and they work just like smart playlists in iTunes. This builds upon tagging in a big way and is a powerful organisational tool to help keep you on top of your workload.

Smart Notebooks is a great feature, providing live search functionality for tasks across different Notebooks.

Smart Notebooks is a great feature, providing live search functionality for tasks across different Notebooks.

Because each Notebook has its own calendar, list and overview panes, switching between views and notebooks can be cumbersome and downright clunky. It takes several taps and swipes to switch from, say, the calendar view of one notebook to the task list of another. While you’ll certainly get used to it, it never feels fluid and is an almost constant reminder why task management apps have always adopted a more traditional multi-pane view, such as OmniFocus, Things and Firetask.

Calendar

The calendar view is useful, though a lack of options make it unusable for those with multiple calendars.

The calendar view is useful, though a lack of options make it unusable for those with multiple calendars.

Integration with your iOS device’s calendars is provided via Gneo, as previously seen when setting a reminder for a task. Gneo can also display events from your entire calendar, as well as displaying tasks with reminders along side them. There doesn’t appear to be any way to decide quite which calendar you want to add events to, as well as which ones you want to display (I have several calendars that I use on iCloud) and Gneo has no settings for it, despite displaying a message telling me to check the calendar settings. Until then, this calendar view is almost useless if you regularly use multiple calendars.

Evernote Integration

The ever popular Evernote is a great way to keep notes and scraps of information to hand, and Gneo offers some great integration. Tasks that contain attachments or notes can be synced to Evernote, including audio recordings. Each task is synced as a note of the same name with any additional information stored within. Even better, tasks that are synced include a to-do item created in Evernote and checking it off will sync back to Gneo, pretty impressive integration between both platforms.

Notes are removed from Evernote once a task is completed though they are still recoverable from the trash. I’d like to have seen an option to avoid deleting from Evernote once a note is created, or at least have the move to an archive notebook as it’s always worth keeping any attachments regardless of whether a task is finished.

Conclusion

Gneo is a unique, if a little flawed, task management app that offers a lot more than most other ones available at the moment. Task attachments and built-in voice recordings make this a great task management app, especially for Evernote users with Gneo’s deep integration and ease of use with the service.

The flaws with Gneo are purely aesthetic, stemming from a sometimes-awkward interface, apparently missing settings and an overview that really doesn’t add to the experience or make life easier. These types of issues can be both the easiest and most difficult to fix, so it’s interesting to see where Gneo goes from here.


Summary

Gneo is a capable app with a unique perspective on task management. Sometimes flawed, it's rich feature-set and Evernote integration make it a great option for keeping organised.

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